‘The Furnished Room’ by O. Henry

O. Henry 1902

The Furnished Room by O. Henry, 1904

The magic trick:

Using an ironic ending to elevate the feelings of pain, loss and grief in the story

Yesterday we looked at “The Skylight Room,” a love story by O. Henry that used its twist ending to accentuate the other literary devices in the text. Today another O. Henry love story in a rented room. This one employs it’s surprise ending to a more straightforward effect: breaking your heart. There is no silly irony here. No humor. Just pain, loss and real emotion. And that’s quite a trick on O. Henry’s part.

The selection:

He thanked her and crept back to his room. The room was dead. The essence that had vivified it was gone. The perfume of mignonette had departed. In its place was the old, stale odour of mouldy house furniture, of atmosphere in storage.

The ebbing of his hope drained his faith. He sat staring at the yellow, singing gaslight. Soon he walked to the bed and began to tear the sheets into strips. With the blade of his knife he drove them tightly into every crevice around windows and door. When all was snug and taut he turned out the light, turned the gas full on again and laid himself gratefully upon the bed.


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